I’m not sure where to start but I suppose we could start on Garden Crescent in Petrolia and the cute grey brick house with two car garage near Heritage Heights Golf Course. That’s the home of Sarnia’s Chief Administrative Officer, Margaret Misek - Evans.
She paid about $350,000.00 for it last fall.
Yes, the same Margaret Misek - Evans who is paid $185,000.00 as a City employee, got into a $411,000.00 harassment squabble with Mayor Mike Bradley, was instrumental in jacking up the municipal budget by $20 million and who likes to surround herself with expensive like minded bureaucrats.
That Margaret Misek - Evans.
The one who in addition to her expensive battle with the Mayor appreciates recommendations of expensive consultants. In 2014, her first full year Council rubber stamped nearly $1 million worth of consultancy fees for her administration.
Consultants for everything from her One Team management approach (let’s not have differing opinions just one) to the recommendations of Prior and Prior Associates that led to the hiring of Councillor Matt Mitro’s stepson - in - law as head of information technology.
Since Mark Dillon arrived from Stratford and Mark Giberson’s position was deemed “redundant” costs in IT at Sarnia City Hall ballooned exponentially.
I suppose it wouldn’t be a surprise if I told you Giberson is less than enthusiastic about the management style of his former employer telling First Monday it was a good place to work until “she arrived”.
When I told him IT at Sarnia City Hall is now $1.8 million and heading toward a staff of 11 he wasn’t surprised.
“I can believe that” he remarked nonchalantly suggesting consultants usually tell clients what they want to hear. And in the case of Sarnia City Hall what Misek - Evans didn’t want to hear was what Giberson had to say.
“When you add a lot of people it doesn’t take long for costs to escalate,” which turned out to be the basis of his falling out with Misek – Evans.
Ultimately the new Chief Administrative Officer made Giberson’s position as a Technical Support Analyst redundant.
She also triggered IT Director Ron Marshall’s early retirement allowing him to sit at home while he collected his $118,000.00 pay cheque.
By doing so she made room for Mitro’s stepson - in - law Mark Dillon.
Under Dillon, who came from Festival City Hydro in Stratford, not only has Giberson’s position been filled but other positions have been created.
So many in fact that there is ongoing speculation that the administration is planning to cram IT staff in the basement of Sarnia City Hall.
Giberson now works in Owen Sound, a City of about half the size of Sarnia. He is one of three in IT.
He has this to say about his former employer.
“For me Sarnia wasn’t a nice place to work. The atmosphere changed. A lot of people left and there was an ongoing tension between management and the mayor. People were either for or against after Misek – Evans arrived.”
As for Dillon, Mitro is absolutely glowing.
“Check his credentials, check his experience. He is a top - flight guy and he is here in Sarnia,” says Mitro about his step son - in - law. “Thank God for that because we really need a top - flight IT guy.”
As top - flight as Dillon may be it is painfully obvious he, like Misek - Evans is an empire builder.
Mitro has never publically voted against an IT expenditure since Dillon arrived in 2016. Mitro has also never declared a conflict of interest, even when he suggested to police chief Phil Nelson that his step son - in - law’s department work in conjunction with IT at the police department.
Council didn’t go there but Nelson later told me he was “surprised” Mitro would make such a recommendation based on the family connection.
At this point I should probably tell you how business is done in Lambton County.
The County does most of the heavy lifting for the City.
Main roads, deemed County roads, the libraries, social services and ambulance (EMS) are just some of the services provided to the City.
The County provides actual services in nearly 50 different locations across its boundaries. And roughly half of County staff work in departments that operate 24/7.
There are 14 in IT including the department head. In addition to working for the County they work on a fee for service basis for two municipalities and offer assistance to others including, (are you ready for this?) … Sarnia.
And here is a fun fact.
The Warden of the County actually has a key to his office and doesn’t have to wait for staff to show up to get into the building.
I wonder if the lady who owns the cute grey house on Garden Crescent in Petrolia knows all this?
Just wondering but I’m guessing probably.